In the Suburbs: After Paris attacks, is any place safe?
A soccer stadium, the concert hall Bataclan and several restaurants were all targets of eight ISIS terrorists on a mission of death. When the shooting stopped, nearly 130 innocent bystanders out for an enjoyable evening in the most romantic city in the world were dead and more than 350 others were injured.
The murders happened swiftly and without warning and many who were on site at the Bataclan and other places, spoke of a steady “rat-a-tat-tat” as victims were shot at point-blank range, dropping like flies with blood everywhere.
Many are asking when this will all end, and frankly, I’m becoming more convinced that it will never end. Paris is simply another city on a growing list of targets.
Meanwhile, across the United States, Americans and French expatriates are standing together in a show of solidarity against this latest horror story. One expatriate expressed gratitude for the show of support among New Yorkers. Others simply commented in disbelief that such a despicable act could be carried out with no suspicions or knowledge from the authorities.
Not surprisingly, I was hearing rumors after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center garage that something on the scale of 9/11 was eventually going to happen. And while the administration probably acknowledged those rumors, the eventual travesty came without warning on a warm September morning in the form of three airliners used as missiles in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., and one plane initially aimed at the White House until multiple heroes crashed it into a Shanksville, Pa., field.
The carnage that resulted in New York and Washington was a wake-up call that our own soil is no longer a safe haven. And now Paris has received the same wake-up call in the same way that the cities like London, Madrid, and Mumbai did over the past several years. Even with beefed up security at airports, subways and any other public places, I still wonder if it’s enough.
My sense is that most Parisians will have the same worries and probably the same post-traumatic stress syndrome that so many New Yorkers felt after 9/11. Barely 72 hours after the attacks, near panic set in on Paris streets when someone inadvertently set off firecrackers somewhere near the Bataclan.
And these kinds of horrors are similar to what our Israeli friends routinely face every day when they ride city buses never knowing when a bomb will go off or whether a suicide bomber is lurking in a fine Tel Aviv or Jerusalem restaurant.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the French eventually seek Israel’s expert help on the security front, because the United States and other countries have no doubt spoken to Israel about the most extreme security measures that must be taken to try and prevent a repeat of this kind of tragedy.
My heart aches for France and its innocent victims. To live under the shadow of a terrorist organization that has so little regard for human life is unfair and cruel. If ISIS sent eight assassins, there are no doubt hundreds more who are itching to destroy more lives around the globe.
I was pleased that the French retaliated with strikes against known ISIS targets, but I worry that there are so many more targets we’ll never know about. ISIS is a big organization with, evidently, a lot more depth than we ever imagined. I can only wonder where in the United States another attack will take place. Manhattan has already been through so much, it’s hard to tell what more the residents and workers in the city may have to endure.
Or will Washington, D.C. be next? Chicago? Boston? The possibilities are tragically endless. Nowhere in the world is really safe anymore. But we can’t live in fear that we will be the next victims. Our only strength against these animals for now has to be in our resolve to go on.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.